Push To Fail

iStock_000000378293_SmallThe personal trainer said – we will push until fail.

In other words, the pushups would go until I could not go anymore. There really was no we in this, but that was an argument for another day. Pushups, bag, weights, crunch – each round going until I simply could not go anymore which was not long…

It is a strange feeling to work out knowing the end will come when you fail. Most of the time we begin with a goal in mind, and when we hit the distance, the rep, or the weight we stop and move on to what comes next. When you push to fail you know the end in advance. When you can’t go anymore, you’re done.

A conversation starts between the mind, body, and trainer about how far one can go, and the truth is none of them really know. The body can be pushed further, what you think is not always what you can do, and your trainer – by far and away the optimist – is really there to make sure you don’t listen to either. Just go, and see what you can do.

In all honesty, this is a dangerous way to live. It drives you to the edge, but it is often at the edge where you learn the most about what you can do. Jesus did this with his disciples. In one of the most famous miracle stories, Matthew 14, Jesus is in the middle of a storm walking on the water toward his disciples who are, naturally, in a boat.  The disciples think Jesus is a ghost;

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

“Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

This is faith pushed to fail. Peter is on the edge of what he believes he can do, who he believes Jesus is, and the decision to live in a world of faithful risk or worldly security. All the while a storm rolls on – there are forces that do not want us to step beyond an edge. Peter pushes, walks on the water, then fails.

This pattern Jesus knew as well. For years, he taught, traveled, worked the miraculous and healed, all in the face of a rising opposition, a growing storm. Then, one day, Jesus failed. His body died on a cross as his enemies took the day. As followers of Jesus, of course, we know that although evil took day one, God took day three and with the resurrection of Jesus we see what God does when we are pushed to fail.

As Jesus did with Peter, God also did with Jesus – God reached down and saved. When pushed to fail we see how powerful faith is, and how out of love our God reaches in and lifts us up when we can go no more.

(thanks for reading, if you found Jesus in this please comment and share)

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